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August 26, 2022 4:24 PM, EDT

ATA Group Advances Trucking Diversity Initiative

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A working group formed by American Trucking Associations to advance diversity in the industry has drafted guidelines to help fleets of all sizes foster greater inclusiveness in their ranks, and has now created an award to recognize industry diversity efforts.

“Our hope in getting this out is that this is not the end, it’s the beginning,” USA Truck CEO James Reed, who serves as chairman of the ATA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, told Transport Topics. “That people will take this information as a catalyst — and I might even say an inspiration — to think differently about diversity, equity and inclusion, as it pertains to their business.” Reed added, “By forming this group, we think it gives a platform for great ideas.”



Early last year, the group began drafting guidelines to help boost industry diversity, based on input from carriers. The guidelines were designed to be modular and scalable, so carriers of all sizes could adapt them. In fact, Reed said this approach had smaller carriers in mind, as some may not have the resources to commit to internal diversity programs.

James Reed

Reed

We realized when we got together — especially those of us that are at bigger firms — that we have more resources for these types of things,” Reed said. “But we also, in creating this group, are extraordinarily mindful of the membership of ATA — it does include the big guys. So, we really wanted to do something that would serve the needs of the entire constituency.”

USA Truck ranks No. 57 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

Reed noted that the guidelines are continuously being updated and promoted, and are available for review.

“There’s essentially a shared location through the ATA website where people can go and view those best practices,” Reed said. “Somebody needs to curate that information and make sure best practices continue to be updated. We’re doing that as a team.”

On July 27, the ATA Diversity Equity and Inclusion Change Leader Award became the latest initiative to come from the group. It will recognize ATA members who commit to a culture of acceptance and belonging for their employees. Garner Trucking CEO Sherri Garner Brumbaugh helped spearhead the effort.

Garner Brumbaugh

Brumbaugh

“I know the trucking industry will be the place where all people can find a place to belong,” said Brumbaugh, who formerly served as ATA chair. “The DEI Change Leader Award will highlight those motor carriers, allied partners and individuals’ hard work by challenging others to be bold and be the change leader in their own organization.”

The group is accepting nominations through Sept. 10. Nomination forms for the award are available at https://www.trucking.org/DEI-Award. A ceremony to announce a winner will be held at the ATA Management Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for Oct. 22-25 in San Diego. During the conference, Reed said the working group will discuss next steps.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Can I lay out a road map for what’s to come? Absolutely not. But during the coming MCE meeting, we will talk about the path that we’ve been down [and] the need for the industry — and the opportunity for the industry — to become even better than we already are.”

Reed stressed there are practical benefits for broadening diversity in the trucking industry. Notably, more potential avenues for recruitment at a time when the industry is suffering from labor shortages.

He also noted that while the industry as a whole is fairly diverse, this isn’t always reflected within companies’ management and leadership. He sees making trucking more reflective of the populations it serves on all levels as the goal of the diversity effort.

“We are competing in our industry for a very precious limited resource, which is human resources,” Reed said. “If we, as an industry, can’t be seen as progressive and forward-thinking — and ahead of this existential issue of diversity, equity and inclusion — then we’re going to lose in the long run. It’s to our mutual interest to be out front here, and that’s all this is. It is just a platform to get us talking about it. I really think you’re seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

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